The Road To Bali was the sixth of 7 “Road” pictures that Hope & Crosby made and it was the only one to be filmed in color.
It was produced by Bing Crosby Productions, Hope Enterprises and Paramount Pictures after a 5 year lapse since the previous Road picture.
The movie is really nothing but a series of sketches, ad-libs and in jokes, set against vividly colored backgrounds of islands, ancient temples, the sea, and jungles.
The whole thing seems almost like a series of improvisations made up as they went along. There's just enough plot to move things along, some nice musical numbers, and a winking, nudging attitude toward the audience, best exemplified by scenes where Hope talks to the audience, known as breaking the 4th wall.
The term applies to the boundary between any fictional setting and its audience. When this boundary is "broken" (for example by an actor speaking to the audience directly), it is called "breaking the fourth wall.
The Road to Bali may be dated and corny, but it was meant to be just silly fun when it was made and it’s the same today. In this very lighthearted comedy, Bob and Bing ham it up in the South Pacific, in search of women and adventure.
The plot, which involves deep-sea diving for sunken treasure, is super shallow ... so to speak. But the film is just an excuse to highlight the talents of the comic and the crooner, with Dorothy Lamour on hand to spice things up.
The real value of the "road" movies is the perspective they bring to cinema viewing, showing how movies have changed in 50+ years, and not necessarily for the better.
The Road To Bali wouldn't fly today, but for fans of Hope and Crosby, the film is a pleasant, harmless diversion, a reminder of a more innocent, bygone era in film-making. The comedy is classic 'Road' - the pair stroll from situation to situation, taking humorous potshots at each other, making in-jokes about the entertainment industry, and occasionally bursting into song.
Dorothy Lamour provides the female presence, love interest and 'straight person' to the duo's persistent childishness and one-upmanship. Crosby invariably comes out the winner, such as in the competition for Lamour's romantic interest (it seems she only likes Hope because he resembles a pet chimpanzee she had as a child.)
It's all good fun, if slightly politically incorrect these days, but still holds up pretty well. And imagine trying to make a funny movie today without nudity or cursing.
The jokes come thick and fast and, although the meaning of many of them is a little obscure today, a lot of them hit the mark. The songs are also decent – especially Moonflowers, sung by Lamour.
Look for a host of cameos, including Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Crosby's brother Bob, Jane Russell and Humphrey Bogart (sort of).
As a young adult Crosby enjoyed carousing and drinking and actually received another nickname: "Binge" Crosby. He once spent two months in jail for DUI after a minor car accident, and surprised and shocked interviewers by advocating that pot be decriminalized.
The balding actor hated having to wear a toupee during filming and specifically looked for scripts that had outdoor scenes where he could wear a hat or bed scenes in which he could wear a nightcap. And his large ears were pinned back during his early films.
From the 1940s to the 1960s, he owned 15% of the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team and his cameo in Angels in the Outfield (1951) was as part-owner of the team.
On the day of his death he played a full 18 holes of golf, where he scored a respectable 85 and won the match. Walking off the 18th green of a golf club in near Madrid, Spain, he suffered a massive heart attack.
His last words were reported as, "That was a great game of golf, fellas."
He left a clause in his will stating that his sons could not collect their inheritance money until they were in their 80s. But they had already been amply taken care of by a trust fundset up by their mother, Dixie Lee. All four sons continued to collect monies from that fund until their deaths.
At his death, because of Crosby's shrewd investments in oil, real estate, and other commodities, he was one of Hollywood's wealthiest residents, along with Fred MacMurray, Lawrence Welk, and best friend Bob Hope.
His eldest son Gary Crosby was vocal in criticizing Bing's violent ways as a father. He wrote a sensationalist tell-all biography titled Going My Own Way in 1983 which was touted as a "Daddy Dearest" about Bing.
Two of his sons, Lindsey & Dennis, eventually committed suicide.
Director Hal Walker also worked on 2 other Road pictures—The Road to Zanzibar and The Road to Morrocco.
In 1979, Walker’s wife went on the TV show Match Game…….at the age of 81 and won $250.
One of the film's writers, Hal Kanter, went on to be executive producer of the TV series All In The Family.
Peter Coe, playing Gung, was born in 1918 in Yugoslavia on the exact day that country was created. He was married 8 times and was a close friend & drinking buddy of Ed Wood, Jr., who is widely recognized as the worst director of all time.
When Wood was evicted from his Hollywood apartment, he and wife Kathy moved in with Coe. Only a few days after the move, Wood, who had serious drinking issues, died of an alcohol-induced heart attack while resting in Coe’s home.
You may recognize Michael Ansara playing a guard. He starred as Cochise on the popular Broken Arrow TV series in the 1950s.
During that series' run, he met actress Barbara Eden, from I Dream of Jeannie fame, on a date arranged by the 20th Century-Fox publicitydepartment and the two later married.
The part of Eunice is played by Carolyn Jones. She is best remembered as Morticia from the TV series The Addams Family. She also proposed to, and married, Aaron Spelling but they divorced amicably before he hit it big